By Sierra Kirkpatrick
I first heard about Vote16 on May 3rd, a turning point in the movement. The charter amendment had just been passed by the Board of Supervisors, officially putting Vote16 on the November ballot. While my friends celebrated the news, I sat dumbfounded, confused what was happening. I had no idea what Vote16 was and what it meant for me. After that, I did some of my own research on the movement, learning about its humble roots and its overall objectives. My interest grew and I became eager to help out in any way I could. I wanted to be a part of this movement, to allow those with a voice to be heard no matter their age.
When I got a Facebook invite to the Vote16 Volunteer Extravaganza, I was delighted. I wanted to help out, but I was also nervous. I didn’t know if I would know anyone there, or if I’d get along with the other volunteers. I signed in and had some time to socialize. I learned a few names and realized that a couple of the kids were from my school. Once the event started, we did a few fun ice breakers and talked about what brought us here. Then we had a few guest speakers, who brought us through the history of Vote16 and the importance of volunteers like us, to really create the movement. We met one of the founders of Vote16 and other YEA members who talked to us more about what they do and where the campaign is headed. A few even talked about their experiences working on prior campaigns. After lunch, for the last hour or so, we cycled through activities. We did a matching game about voting rights historically, we learned how to phone bank and canvas, and we even learned how to tell our own story and how it brought us to Vote16. I loved hearing people’s stories about their family history, their culture, and their personal experiences. I made sure to sign up for a couple shifts at the end of the day, and they even surpassed their goal for shift sign-ups.
I had a great time meeting all these different people, but it really got me thinking, about why I was so excited about Vote16. Why was I so determined to let teenagers have a voice? Of course I am a teenager and I would vote if I could, but it was more than that. Not only would I vote, I would vote for what I am passionate about. I want my voice to be heard because I have ideas and values that need to recognized. I have learned about social injustices and environmental changes and can make informed opinions, just as much as some adults. I believe that I have a right to share my opinions and to vote, to make these dreams a reality. For me, Vote16 is about breaking down stereotypes and truly allowing everyone to make a difference in the city they live in.